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Simon Rising: an After the Crash superhero novel Kindle Edition
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I enjoy books where the protagonist and cast have active minds, and the cover art to Simon Rising gives advance notice of the focused, probing intelligences of the two characters I enjoyed "peering into" the most. This was a superhero novel that had a believable arc, following the lines of, "What else can I do?" in a natural style. I am looking forward to the next novel (and will set aside most of a day to read it in one dose). This feels like the start of a series that will be binge-worthy.
Four years ago, an alien spacecraft crashed into the bay of Bay City, and its wreck sits there still, impenetrable to those who seek ingress. And maybe it's pure coincidence - or maybe not - that persons with odd abilities have soon after sprung up all over the metropolis, and some of them these crimefighting vigilantes.
Steven Ambrose typifies the antonym of that. He's a heist mastermind who, perhaps, this one time, neglected to cross all the t's and dot all the i's. Because he got caught robbing a bank. See Ambrose now in the hospital, suddenly a quadriplegic, a 52-year-old coma patient in Room 310A. And when he wakes up two weeks later, he learns he's also an amnesiac with the significant motor cortex damage. Ambrose doesn't remember his past as a crooked man. And, some time after that, he learns he's telekinetic.
Brian D. Howard's Simon Rising isn't like most superhero reads, and I appreciated that. It isn't that Ambrose was a criminal, because anti-heroes have been done ad nauseam. There are bits in the book that made for uncomfortable reading, and, yeah, it's to do with the element of body horror that Howard details in.
To me, Ambrose isn't the most interesting character in the book. That would be FBI Special Agent Rachel Moore, a 42-year-old woman of color. It's interesting watching her try to get her job done even as she navigates thru the old boys network and, specifically, as she works thru her professional partnership with sexist Bay City cop, Lt. Pat Thorne.
Howard peppers in some intriguing worldbuilding. The alien ship continues to trigger a mad scavenger hunt. Turns out, bits of the ship had broken off during its crash and, so, some alien technology had escaped into the world, and that only fed into these various entities' ambition to snag some more. It's no spoiler to mention that Ambrose eventually gets out of the hospital. Out in the world, he ends up confronting his old life and determining his new place in the world. Or does he go back to his old life? The narrative isn't so linear and predictable that you can say for sure he's a new man. Howard introduces a shadowy underworld figure known as the Etherax or simply as "the Boss." He's the one who pulls all the strings, never mind that his lieutenants are working thru their own independent machinations. There's also a hitman hanging on to his tattered conscience.
As mentioned, Simon Rising is at times not a comfortable read. Howard is a good enough writer that he's able to put you into his characters' heads. And when you're experiencing what Ambrose is going thru, it sucks. It's to do with the claustrophobic notion of being trapped in an immobilized body, that you need to have a diaper on, always, because you have no control of your bodily functions, and THEN that you're not even aware of when that diaper requires changing... Ugh.
It's the first in the After the Crash series. I'm looking forward to the second entry, whenever that is, titled Rectifier - The Electric Man.